Insect Hibernation Vastly Extends Lifespan

January 15, 2016 | Posted In: General

Insect Hibernation Vastly Extends Lifespan

Dr. Karl Joplin has been awarded $8,265 by the East Tennessee State University’s Research Development Committee to study insect diapause, a process similar to hibernation in mammals. Diapause is what helps insect survive during the freezing months of winter. However, diapause has a few distinct differences from hibernation that border on entering the realm of science fiction.

Diapause is activated when daylight decreases to a certain point during winter. The simple cue of daylight causes a complete change in all physiological functions. It slows down metabolism and even aging in insects. A normal fly will only live around 30 days. However, when in diapause that lifespan can increase to two years. This is similar to a human being living for 24 centuries. Diapause works almost like cryogenic freezing would work if we actually had that kind of technology. The insect basically goes into a period of stasis where they can survive far past their normal lifespan in this frozen state.

Dr. Joplin plans on studying RNA in the two different states in order to identify how the expression of RNA could be involved in maintaining the state of diapause. He could very well get humans just a tiny bit closer to understanding how we could successfully create a state like this in humans.

What do you think of this unique state in which insects can survive lifetimes longer than normal?